Friday, September 6, 2013


I’ve read Barak’s story in Judges 4 and 5. I remember how Deborah called him to raise an army to accomplish God’s will, and his response to her:

And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. (Judges 4:8 KJV)

I wasn’t ready to see his name as part of the explanation of the word ‘blessed’ in Psalm 103:1.

Let me back up a moment. Etymology - the study of words - intrigues me. I want to know what they mean, where they came from, why they are used in specific places. When reading from versions other than the King James, I want to know why different words were chosen.

Reading …

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. (Psalm 103:1 NIV)

… I looked up the Hebrew and checked Strong’s dictionary to find the word used as “bless” in one version and “praise” in the other was בּרךor “barak” with a tilde over the first “a”. Since that was so similar to the name Barak, I looked that up, בּרק, with a tilde over both ‘a’s and the spelled “baraq.” Small distinctions, but there are differences in meanings – “baraq” is defined by Strong’s as:
H1301:  bârâq (baw-rawk') The same as H1300; Barak, an Israelite:
While H1300 is given as a “flashing sword” when not applied as a given name. Then I checked H1288 “barak” definition:
  1. (He/it) blessed (for example, God) (as an act of adoration)
  2. (He/it) blessed (for example, man) (as a benefit)
  3. (euphemistic) (He/it) cursed (for example, God or a king) (as treason)
With that background and understanding, I can see why the word “praise” was used in the NIV.  I was surprised at the third option, though – cursed?

So, why do I trust God’s word when it can have so many different meanings? And, it’s been translated from the original so often? How do we know that David wasn’t cursing God in this verse?

Context. Just as we cannot take a single moment to define a whole day, nor can we take a single day and define an entire year, single words do not tell a story. It helps to know who, what, when, where and why – which means placing a word, a story, a book in context.

Which comes back to Paul’s explanation to the elders at Ephesus:

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. (Acts 20:27 KJV)

It takes all of God’s word, studying to see if it is valid, taken in context in order to understand. Some of it is history. Some is fulfilled prophecy, some unfulfilled. Some would be requirements for living as God wills, some would be examples of what happens when we don’t.

As Paul explained to Timothy – there is good reason to study:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV)

1 comment:

  1. If the word was used as a euphemism for "cursed", then it didn't actually mean cursed. It was a word that could be used in place of "cursed", so as not to say the harsher word.

    It would be like saying somebody "Blessed me out" instead of "Cussed me out".


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